Are you using the term 'App' correctly?

If you're not a developer you're probably using the term app wrong. Why is this important? I think you are missing out on other opportunities for your SaaS business. Hence I'll explain the term application and what it's all about.

It's not all about mobile

An application is not just something that you can download from the AppStore or Playstore. There is much more to it.

It is about the business value it provides - or the problem it solves. Theoretically, it shouldn't even matter what kind of input/output device you use.

Creating a payroll is a famous example. You could develop a mobile application to feed the program with data or use punch cards. The program should calculate the same result, regardless of what input/output device you use.

In a perfect world, this means, that you could easily port any application to any platform.

It's not just one bundled app

You were squared if you think that an application just consists of the things you see and some database read/write operations.

In reality, there are several components on different levels:

The application frontend

Everything, that the user uses for input and output operations. The frontend can come in the format of:

  • a mobile iOS app

  • a web app

  • and - yes! Even - punch cards

The user itself should not have access to any data on this level. He will request all his data from...

The application backend

Synonyms: Server, (often wrongly assumed: Database)

It is not visible to the user and is responsible for all the sensitive data access. This instance gets data access requests and responds to them.

Many of my customers wrongly assume the backend and the database it the same thing. It is not so!

The backend is like a middleman between the frontend and the database. You can not give the user direct access to the database, since he could then read, update and delete everything.

Trust me, you do not want that!

The backend is also the place where all the magic happens. All business rules, calculations, and everything that is specifically tailored to your customer's problem should lie here.

The database

Is an outsider in the duo of frontend and backend. Its only reason for existence is to persist data.

It does not contain any business logic, no rules about your customers' problem - straight up: nothing but data.


I hope you enjoyed this little scratch on the surface of software development terms. It should have given you a basic understanding of what happens in the background when one is developing an application - and that there's more to it, than just one icon on an iPhone Pro.